The Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America's Promise

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Overview

In this groundbreaking book, Joe Scarborough tells Republican Party bosses what they don’t want to hear, explains why Democrats are making matters so much worse, and then shows leaders of both parties the way forward.

The Last Best Hope draws on the forgotten genius of conservatism to offer a road map for the movement and the country. Delivering a searing indictment of the political leaders who have led us astray, Scarborough inspires conservatives to reclaim their heritage by ...

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Last Best Hope: Restoring Conservatism and America's Promise

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Overview

In this groundbreaking book, Joe Scarborough tells Republican Party bosses what they don’t want to hear, explains why Democrats are making matters so much worse, and then shows leaders of both parties the way forward.

The Last Best Hope draws on the forgotten genius of conservatism to offer a road map for the movement and the country. Delivering a searing indictment of the political leaders who have led us astray, Scarborough inspires conservatives to reclaim their heritage by drawing upon the strength of the movement’s rich history. With independent thinking and straight talk, Scarborough explains:

  • How Washington and Wall Street conspired to create the housing bubble that caused America’s financial meltdown
  • How the "candidate of change" has not only maintained but accelerated the reckless spending policies that led us to this historic economic collapse
  • How Washington’s bailout culture will cripple America’s future if left unchecked
  • How Barack Obama’s stimulus plan devolved into a socialist spending spree that would make FDR and LBJ shudder
  • And how conservatives need to take a closer look at Ronald Reagan’s political career before claiming his great legacy

A fearlessly argued conservative manifesto that brings American conservatism into the twenty-first century, The Last Best Hope is a must-read for all who care about the direction America is heading.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this disappointingly mundane book, Scarborough, host of MSNBC's Morning Joe, mistakes his skills at showmanship for those of critical analysis. From the Iraq War to the recent financial crisis, his arguments amount to little more than a superficial précis of the current political moment. For most readers, this book will be an ideological retread and an unimaginative slog. Unlike the recent writings of Reihan Salam and Ross Douthat, whose New Majority labored to be a prescriptive way forward for conservatives, Scarborough hardly gets outside of the well-traversed policy debates and received wisdom of Beltway professionals. While he sees his book as a blueprint for a renewed conservative politics, his only stab at unconventional thinking is to advocate a conservative embrace of green politics. For all the book's flaws, it never descends to ad hominem attacks or becomes a platform for gross personal vendettas, nor does it trade in the self-regard of the Olberman or O'Reilly variety, which is to Scarborough's credit. But these qualities are not enough to recommend readers pluck this one from the shelf, or even the bargain bin. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
“Conservatives need to read this book. Joe Scarborough is a real conservative.”
—Jed Babbin, Human Events

“In this engaging and timely book, Joe Scarborough undertakes a critical mission: the reinvigoration of conservatism in America. Aiming to take conservatives beyond reaction and beyond sentimentality, he asks the big questions, and does not shy away from offering answers. This is an important contribution to one of the most vital debates of the day.”
—Jon Meacham

“Joe Scarborough can save the GOP. This is a lively, likeable and important book. So my fellow Republicans–rejoice. We have a face! Now let’s get to work.”
—Christopher Buckley

The Last Best Hope is must reading for anyone who cares about the conservative movement.”
—Peggy Noonan

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307463692
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/9/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Joe Scarborough

JOE SCARBOROUGH is currently the host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe and can be heard weekdays on The Joe Scarborough Show. He was elected to Congress in 1994, becoming the first Republican to represent northwest Florida since 1873, and was reelected three times with no serious opposition. In 2001, he retired from Congress and, in 2003, became an NBC political commentator and host. He is also the author of Rome Wasn’t Burnt in a Day.

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Read an Excerpt

1Increasing military power through restraint

Avoiding an Earthly Hell

We must be judicious in our use of the military. We will fight only when it is in the vital interests of the United States, when our mission is clear, and when the exit strategy is obvious.

—Governor George W. Bush

The morning after George W. Bush made his farewell address to the nation, few media outlets took note of it. In fact, the only national paper to mention the 43rd president’s final speech on its front page was USA Today, and it confined the story to a small box that described another article hidden inside.

America’s newspapers were focused instead that morning on an airplane that had been taken down from the skies over Manhattan.

TV crews dutifully rushed to the crash site and almost immediately began warning Americans of a grave new danger that would threaten the safety of air travelers for years to come.

Tom Costello of NBC News told Morning Joe viewers that government officials were working furiously to address the problem and that the crisis had become so grave in the nation’s capital that cannons were being fired from the end of Reagan National Airport’s runways every three minutes.

The Times of London weighed in the next morning with a list of solutions government officials were considering to protect British passengers from this growing menace. The Times reported that some leaders had become so desperate that they were resorting to clandestine poisoning, dog attacks, and advanced radar technology.

Coincidentally, a few days earlier the U.S. government had released a report showing that for the first time in aviation history, the United States had gone two years without suffering a single casualty on a commercial air carrier. So just when Americans thought it was safe to once again climb aboard a plane without fear of attack, their confidence was jolted by a rising threat that now stalked the not-so-friendly skies.

We had again met our enemy in the air over New York City, and what was it?

Birds.

As Tom Costello helpfully explained to viewers, the Canada goose population was on the migratory rise and its effect was being felt on runways across America. That phenomenon had ended in the miraculous water landing on the Hudson River of a US Airways flight.

How ironic it must have seemed to the man who saw his presidency defined by four plane crashes within an hour’s time that his farewell address to America was eclipsed by yet another plane crash in Manhattan. He must have felt some pride in the fact that the culprits seven years later were not a group of terrorists intent on destroying our way of life, but instead a group of birds trying to avoid a very loud object flying their way.

Predictably, few in the media noted the difference George W. Bush’s presidency had made to the safety of Americans from a terrorist attack. And while debates might rage for years to come over his approval of harsh interrogation techniques or how long enemy combatants could be locked up, those battles will be waged in law schools like Columbia and NYU, instead of inside the concourses of LaGuardia or JFK.

George W. Bush had made the protection of American citizens and the prevention of future terror attacks on U.S. soil his top priority. By that measure—the most important many apply to a commander in chief—the 43rd president did what few Americans thought possible in the weeks following September 11.

He kept Americans safe at home.

While President Bush accomplished that task, conservatives now must assess the cost of achieving that goal and determine how America’s actions over the past eight years have impacted their movement and, more important, U.S. foreign policy for the next generation.

Before discussing the most effective conservative approach to foreign policy in the future, we should first review how much of a break Mr. Bush’s approach has been from a conservative foreign policy tradition that was once defined by realism and restraint.

Why did conservative leaders respond to the events of that September morning the way they did?

Why did the same cautious Republicans who resisted Bill Clinton’s calls for military missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Sudan, and Iraq adopt George W. Bush’s preemption doctrine without question?

And why did so few conservatives criticize Mr. Bush’s Wilsonian pronouncement that the United States of America would lead a global democratic revolution that would end tyranny itself?

What exactly were conservatives thinking during Mr. Bush’s second inaugural address when the Republican president promised the world that U.S. troops would single-handedly bring freedom and peace to all corners of the globe?

Why did the same Republicans who quoted Colin Powell’s doctrine to justify their restrained foreign policy in the 1990s treat General Powell’s cautiousness toward Iraq with such contempt in 2002?

And how did a president who promised to conduct a limited, humble foreign policy reside over an administration that critics on both the left and right derided as utopian?

George W. Bush’s foreign policy goals in the 2000 presidential campaign were consistent with those of conservatives like myself who were swept into Congress in 1994. When we controlled the Armed Services Committee during the Clinton administration, prudence and restraint were our guiding principles.

Republicans saw Bill Clinton’s use of military force as undis-ciplined and reckless. As one Foreign Affairs article at the time stated, the Clinton cabinet seemed to view foreign policy as an extension of social work. We conservatives used our majority in Congress to attack that approach as unfocused, undisciplined, and Wilsonian.

For most conservatives, the Cold War was a necessary evil.

U.S. global involvement was the only option available for the containment of the Communist threat. But after the Soviet Union fell, Republicans I served with in Congress believed that the United States should engage in less military adventurism while narrowing its focus abroad.

So cautious were many conservatives involving the use of military power that Democratic policymakers like President Clinton’s secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, accused GOP leaders of standing in the way of humanitarian missions run by military units.

She was right. We did. And we were proud of it.

No conservative I worked with on the Armed Services Committee in Congress was comfortable with President Clinton’s eagerness to dispatch troops to Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, or Kosovo. We were especially troubled with the Balkans crisis, believing that the lessons of Vietnam taught American leaders not to get involved in civil wars where there were no direct U.S. national security interests.

Conservatives repeatedly pressed Clinton administration officials to state what overriding national interest justified the risking of U.S. casualties. The best answer the White House could provide at the time was that not getting involved in the Balkans civil war would damage our reputation within NATO.

That answer was far from sufficient for most conservatives, who feared getting involved in a three-sided civil war. Obviously, those prudent concerns would fade quickly once a Republican was sworn in as commander-in-chief.

“We are not the world’s 9-1-1,” GOP lawmakers would regularly admonish Clinton aides who repeatedly ignored our warnings of an overstretched military.

A NARROW FOCUS. A DEADLY AIM.

Conservatives would also use their perch in the majority to lecture Clinton officials on the finer points of what, for some of us, was the Magna Carta of conservative foreign policy: the Weinberger Doctrine.

Named after Reagan’s secretary of defense, Caspar Weinberger’s approach to foreign wars was clear, concise, and restrictive. It was framed by the bloody disasters of Vietnam and Beirut, in which two truck bombs struck separate buildings that killed hundreds of U.S. Marines.

Secretary Weinberger said American combat troops should only be deployed when:

it is vital to U.S. national interests

our troop commitment is full and overwhelming

the objectives for our troops are clearly defined

leaders will be willing to reassess constantly troop levels and end goals of the operation

Americans support the war before engagement

U.S. combat troops are sent in only as a last resort

Weinberger’s guidelines were taken as gospel by many conservatives throughout the 1980s and outlasted his time in office. When troops rolled into Kuwait in 1991 for the First Gulf War, former Weinberger aide Colin Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

General Powell’s statements at the start of those combat operations showed that he had clearly adopted his boss’s approach to warfare.

When asked to describe his military strategy against the Iraqi army, the general was blunt.

“First we’re going to cut it off, then we’re going to kill it.”

And that is exactly what Powell’s military machine did.

After the Gulf War, General Powell outlined his own guidelines for U.S. troop deployment. Like Weinberger before him, Powell argued that American troops should go to war only as a last resort. But when we did engage militarily, the force applied should be decisive.

“We don’t want a fair fight” was Powell’s mantra.

While most Republicans cheered the general’s approach, a strand within the conservative movement—dubbed “neoconservatives”—sided with liberal humanitarian hawks like Secretary of State Albright, who were more liberal with the use of American troops overseas in the cause of “limited” wars.

General Powell would remain at odds with both groups.

After leaving the White House for the first time in the mid-1990s, Powell recalled one memorable exchange with Albright, who became exasperated with the general’s reluctance to send Americans to war.

“What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about,” Albright asked Powell, “if we can’t use it?”

Powell remembered later that he “almost had an aneurysm.”

After collecting his thoughts, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs patiently explained to the secretary of state that “American GIs are not toy soldiers to be moved around on some sort of global game board.”

The New York Times later quoted Secretary Albright as saying that her aggressive worldview was shaped by Britain’s appeasement of Adolf Hitler at Munich. Because of that experience, when it came to troop deployment, her first instinct was to “go in.” But because Colin Powell and the band of brothers he served with in Vietnam continued to carry the scars of that failed war, their first instinct had always been caution.

Exercising prudence in foreign policy was also the instinct of a popular governor from a large Southern state. His view on how America should engage in world affairs was clear and restrictive, and owed much to Colin Powell.

During a presidential debate with Al Gore, Jim Lehrer asked Governor George W. Bush whether the United States should engage in nation building. The Texas governor’s response was every bit as indignant as Colin Powell’s retort to Secretary Albright.

“Maybe I’m missing something here,” Governor Bush shot back at Lehrer, “but we should encourage people who live in those lands to build their own nations.” Bush continued, “Our military is meant to fight and win wars. And when it gets overextended, its morale drops.”

The 2000 GOP nominee then gave Americans a condensed version of the Weinberger-Powell Doctrine: “We must be judicious in our use of the military. We will fight only when it is in the vital interests of the United States, when our mission is clear, and when the exit strategy is obvious.”

It was as clear a description of conservative foreign policy as that that existed at the turn of the century.

And then came September 11.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Way Back 1

1 Increasing Military Power Through Restraint 25

Avoiding an Earthly Hell

2 The Great American Bailout 65

In the Age of Idiots

3 From Mean to Green 99

Why Conservatives Should Conserve

4 We Are All Socialists Now 125

Je Prendai La Meme Chose Que Pierre

5 Social Conservatism in the Twenty-first Century 151

6 Money Can't Buy Me Love 173

But It Can Rent the White House for Four Years

7 Death by Entitlement 201

It's Not About Ideology. It's About Math

8 What Republicanism Hath Wrought 227

How Choosing Power over Principle Cost Conservatives Both

9 The Gipper's Greatest Lesson 253

Bringing Grace to a Blood Sport

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Customer Reviews

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( 34 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2009

    Good common sense discussion on the current state of Conservatism.

    Mr. Scarborough presents a basic breakdown of Rebublicanism and Conservatism over the last couple of decades that I found thought-provoking and easy to read. He spends a lot of time on history, but also presents a few ideas on the way forward for conservatives. If you are looking for a heavily academic or intellectual book, then this is probably not for you. Similarly, if you are looking for another one-sided bashing of the opposition party, then I suggest looking elsewhere. Mr. Scarborough provides much needed criticism of his own party in an effort to revitalize a truly conservative movement.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2009

    It's not my last best hope.

    I enjoy reading other people's point of view. It gives me insight on how other people think and not only their opinions but it shares with me some background of information or misinformation they may have received.

    Obviously the writer never had to experience the life of a single parent in an economically disadvantaged situation.

    Not only that he doesn't know all the details with social security laws, amendments, individual state policies, cases of neglect and fraud, etc. etc.

    First of all Obama is not trying to bring back the welfare state. This country is not a state to begin with nevertheless a welfare state.

    It was not a successful welfare reform in 1996, it was partial. The only thing that would be successful is that the welfare roles were reduced but not for the right reasons as it would appear such as gainful employment. The truth is there is a 5 year limit on benefits verses up to the adult age of a child which is 18 years.

    Obama has not done anything to change this to bring it back for this author to make such a claim.

    Yes, Obama has made efforts with stimulus packages and is attempting to create health care for the needy...but that is not 'welfare'...not welfare as defined in the social security act.

    This is not bringing back welfare, its amending it.

    I do agree tho, although conservatism is not my last best hope, these amendments are premature because we are overspending where corrections have to be made first to the existing system and our economy has to re-couperate before adding new kinds of assistance to the needy.

    Although the author is on the right track, he needs to be a little more educated.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2009

    this is the first step to enlighten " Real America"

    this book is very interesting for it displays the real meaning of conservatism not what is portrayed by the so called conservative talk show hosts. it is a teaching book for those who want to learn about the real problems that face the nation nowadays, how a real conservative would deal with such issues. i am not a republican nor a democrat however i think that people like Scarborough shine the beacon of hope for the republican party.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2009

    scar on the view

    he is the biggest phoney he makes MSNBC proud, he is a snake oil saleman
    How can he even think of comparing Ronald Reagan to Obama it gets me sick to my stomach.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2009

    joe scarborough has just shown republicans the future

    Finally a conservative points the way to victory for the Republican party. This book is a worthy read of we want the party to survive or someday thrive. Joe speaks the truth here. Its a great read - (I am actually surprised he is such a good writer!) He also happenes to strike a balance for Republicans who are trying to balance between past values and what the party needs to do to succeed moving forward. What a great book!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The New Conservative Manifesto

    In his new book "The Last Best Hope," former U.S. Congressman Joe Scarborough presents conservatives with a clear and concise roadmap to recovery from the current wilderness. The current strategy of running homogeneous candidates in heterogeneous areas of the country will no longer produce majorities necessary to take control of political offices. Joe argues that the temper of the dialogue with the American people needs to change to be inclusive of those who, more often than not, agree with a conservative agenda. Strictly limiting membership in the Republican party to people who agree with the party's platform in its entirety will only drive voters to the Democratic party and ensured continued conservative minorities. Republicans would do well to heed Scarborough's wisdom and thoughtfulness if they hope to present the electorate with a credible and appealing alternative to the church of Obama.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2014

    Nursery

    A cave with vines that help keep unwanted eyes from looking in. It can hold 3-5 cats and about 5-8 kits at a time.

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  • Posted December 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good Read

    I enjoy Mr. Scarborough's show "Morning Joe" so I thought I'd read his book. I found this book to be extremely thought provoking. His wit comes out in the pages and I would recommend this to anyone who wants to hear it given to both the Republican and Democratic Parties.

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  • Posted August 2, 2009

    Great Book

    Joe, gets it right! Here is a leader that everyone should be following!
    I challenge you to read it!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    Honesty

    Truth backed by facts not innuendos

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 16, 2009

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